Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 10:21:30 AM

Title: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 10:21:30 AM
I am going to try to ask this question first in a generic way without providing background because I think I can phrase it this way and get the etiquette approved answer. Then I can provide background later - I think it really would cloud the whole situation, because it's full of draaaammmmaaaaaa.

You are hosting a dinner and you have guests A, B, C, D, E, and F. You ask what beverages everyone would like to have and start filling them. Your are going back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room and asking for more beverage preferences. Guest B, who is very close with guest C, says that she will have iced tea and so will C, so please also bring some sweetener to the table (I drink just plain unsweetend iced tea but have Sweet-N-Low on hand.) Later, I hear guests C and D discussing why guest C has iced tea and not another beverage. Guest C usually has iced tea when they are at my house, and when guest B said that C would have iced tea, I just assumed that was the case. It turns out that guest C had brought some Coke Zero to drink but for whatever reason C did not let me know at the time. When he needed a refill later, he asked for the Coke Zero.

So the etiquette question is that if you do not hear guest B actually state what he wanted and another guest provides the information, how do you confirm that that's what he really wants?

1. After hearing that, casually say something to C like "C, would you like sweetener with your tea? I just wanted to check on whether to bring out a few packets for B or the whole box." This would let me find out if the presumptive ordering for him was correct, but without blatantly saying "C, B says you'll have iced tea, is that correct?"

2. On the other hand, blatantly saying "C, B says that you'll have iced tea, is that correct?" But as I said, there's draaaammmmmaaaaa involved here.

3. Another option that I can't think of right now but I know all the smart e-Hellions will come up with something really, really good  8)

What do you all think - how can I avoid this mini-minefield for the next time we get together?
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 10:25:36 AM
I don't understande how this is an issue.  Why wouldn't C say, "no, I would prefer Coke Zero" either when B "ordered" for her, or when the ice tea was delivered?  Why would this be a big deal at all?   
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: ilrag on April 01, 2013, 10:36:48 AM
If C never stated their preference or even made you aware that they brought their own beverage it's totally C's fault for not getting the Coke Zero. C should learn to use their words.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 01, 2013, 10:37:44 AM
Was C not there when taking drink orders? I don't understand why he wouldn't correct the comment when made.

If he wasn't there, was he there when you brought the drink into the dining room? Could you have handed it to him and say "B said you wanted tea but if you'd prefer something else, let me know."

If you brought the drinks to the table before any one was in the dining room, then I wouldn't worry about C not getting exactly what he wanted if he couldn't speak up once he got there and say "Oh, I brought Coke Zero to drink. Do you mind if I switch this out."

But I'm really curious how this became dramatic.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Sharnita on April 01, 2013, 10:38:20 AM
Was C present when guest were asked for their drink choices? Are B and C connected - spouses or parent/child?
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 10:44:02 AM
Hmmmmm - the drama involved is not as intense as with other stories. What I'm trying to figure out is whether and/or how to confirm a beverage choice made by one person on behalf of another, without invoking the drama. I said that there was a "discussion" between C and D about the lack of Coke Zero in C's glass, and it was then that I realized there was a potential problem. I did say privately to D that B had already spoken for C. But since C is very close to B, I had no reason to not trust what B was saying.

I agree with everyone else that C should have spoke up when B spoke for him - I think the problem was that C did not hear B speak.. So later when I asked if C wanted some more iced tea, he initially said yes and then changed his mind and asked for the Coke Zero.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Luci on April 01, 2013, 10:45:07 AM
Look at C for confirmation and if he looks hesitant (I pick up on nonverbal language pretty well), ask point blank, "Is that what you want?" even if they are spouses....unless, of course, C is the young child of B (not here, obviously). C may be very shy so need some encouragement to speak up.

My sister-in-law frequently answers for her 40 + year old children and I've been dealing with this since her kids were old enough to make a choice that didn't need confirming from her - like if they can have pop.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: doodlemor on April 01, 2013, 10:47:00 AM
I like your idea of double checking with C by asking a question about sweetener.  Asking about the specifics of the beverage gives you a chance to repeat the choice.   You could also say something like......"Do you want ice in your coke?"

It sounds like you had an interesting Easter, o_gal.  It sounds like these people create drama over very small things.  Best of luck if/when you have to host them again. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TootsNYC on April 01, 2013, 10:47:49 AM
Well, if C's attention wasn't focused on the convo about drinks (my assumption is that he wasn't), C wouldn't have the opportunity to say, "No, B is wrong--though I usually drink iced tea, this time I'd like the Coke Zero from the supply that I brought."

I don't think C did anything wrong at all. When the iced tea was presented, C decided that switching out the iced tea was too much trouble/work/drama, and that since the tea had already been poured into  glass it would be wasteful.

For the HOSTESS, who is the one asking the question, I'd say that perhaps you could simply have a quiet policy that you will only ever accept info from the person him/herself.

And so you nod when B tells you "C would like an iced tea," but you completely erase the comment from your mind and then ask C, "what can I get you to drink?"

(I bet it's dramatic bcs B likes the proprietary feeling she has over C.)
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: GreenBird on April 01, 2013, 10:56:47 AM
If C was standing right there when B said that C would have iced tea and did not correct B's statement, then I think you can only assume that C wants iced tea for the first drink.  If it wasn't clear if C was listening, you could catch her eye and say "Iced tea, right?"

If C was not standing right there when B spoke, then when you do see C:   
--if B isn't there, I think you can just ask C what s/he wants as if B never spoke. 
--if B is there, I think you can say "You wanted iced tea, right?"

But I also don't think it was wrong or rude to serve C iced tea based on B's suggestion since that's what C usually gets.  It turned out to be a faulty assumption, but not an unreasonable or rude one.  If C didn't want it, s/he certainly could have said "Oh, actually I brought some Coke Zero".

I'm guessing there must be some underlying relationship or personality stuff going on for this to have developed into drama!
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: cicero on April 01, 2013, 11:00:17 AM
If C was standing right there when B said that C would have iced tea and did not correct B's statement, then I think you can only assume that C wants iced tea for the first drink.  If it wasn't clear if C was listening, you could catch her eye and say "Iced tea, right?"

If C was not standing right there when B spoke, then when you do see C:   
--if B isn't there, I think you can just ask C what s/he wants as if B never spoke. 
--if B is there, I think you can say "You wanted iced tea, right?"

But I also don't think it was wrong or rude to serve C iced tea based on B's suggestion since that's what C usually gets.  It turned out to be a faulty assumption, but not an unreasonable or rude one.  If C didn't want it, s/he certainly could have said "Oh, actually I brought some Coke Zero".

I'm guessing there must be some underlying relationship or personality stuff going on for this to have developed into drama!
this

and I am interested in what kind of drama could have come out of this...
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 11:03:49 AM
Well, if C's attention wasn't focused on the convo about drinks (my assumption is that he wasn't), C wouldn't have the opportunity to say, "No, B is wrong--though I usually drink iced tea, this time I'd like the Coke Zero from the supply that I brought."

I don't think C did anything wrong at all. When the iced tea was presented, C decided that switching out the iced tea was too much trouble/work/drama, and that since the tea had already been poured into  glass it would be wasteful.

For the HOSTESS, who is the one asking the question, I'd say that perhaps you could simply have a quiet policy that you will only ever accept info from the person him/herself.

And so you nod when B tells you "C would like an iced tea," but you completely erase the comment from your mind and then ask C, "what can I get you to drink?"

(I bet it's dramatic bcs B likes the proprietary feeling she has over C.)

And once again, Toots nails it!  ;D

Luci45 was also close in her assessment. This is my Mom answering for my 51 year old brother  ::)

Yes, it was Easter and here are the cast of characters:
A - my Dad
B - my Mom
C - my brother
D - my brother's fiance
E and F - my brother's 4 year old twins

I was taking drink orders from people in the living room and going into the kitchen to pour and place at the table. My Mom caught me as I was heading back through the dining room and she said that she and brother would have the iced tea, so be sure to bring out the sweetener. I took her at her word and my brother was gracious enough to accept the iced tea. But I overheard him and his fiance discussing/slightly arguing over why he wasn't having one of the Coke Zeros that they had brought. I spoke quietly to his fiance about how Mom had ordered for him and I apologized to her. Later, he asked for the other beverage when asked if he needed a refill.

Mom is having all kinds of issues with the fact that brother is getting remarried, although she admits that Anne is a better match for brother than Amber, his late first wife, was. The drama would have been if I had realized that maybe he didn't want the iced tea and confirmed with him. I wouldn't have heard about it then, but I sure would have heard her complain to me later about "switching" his drink.  ::) Because of course, she would get offended when she heard that he and fiance brought their own choice of drink. Among lots of other things she would get offended about regarding the addition of fiance to the family.

As Toots suggests, I'll have a policy from now on about quietly confirming with him and other guests. But since it's a relatively small house, I'm going to have to come up with a discreet way to bypass without her hearing it and getting offended. I've gotten confirmation here that something like my first option is probably the best way to go.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 01, 2013, 11:04:29 AM
I'm confused.  So, C was there when the drinks were ordered but wasn't paying attention and/or didn't speak up?  Or was C not present at all?

If C was there, I don't think that there's anything wrong with saying "Let me make sure I got this straight.  I'm getting water for A, B is getting ice tea, and C you are also getting ice tea with sugar on the side, correct?"

If C isn't there, I would just assume that B knew what C wanted and get it.  If C wanted something else instead, then no big deal.  But, all in all, I think this is C's responsibility...not yours and not B's.

And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Moray on April 01, 2013, 11:08:05 AM
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 11:23:22 AM
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 11:26:57 AM
I think what some of us are saying is that it makes no sense that any drama would be created over drink choices. I don't think this has anything to do with the drinks at all. These people seem unreasonable so standard "how should this be handled" won't work. In my experience, this would be a non event.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 11:29:52 AM
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Zizi-K on April 01, 2013, 11:30:24 AM
This is why I set up a beverage station and let guests help themselves. I heartily dislike playing waitress at dinner parties.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: lowspark on April 01, 2013, 11:33:00 AM
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.

In this kind of situation, I usually try to make it look like I've messed something up or made some kind of mistake, thus putting the blame on myself instead of where it really belongs, as a way to avoid potential drama.

So... what I would probably do is go to your brother and say something like, "Mom told me what you wanted to drink but I already forgot! What would you like?" It's a confirmation without making it sound like you're doubting Mom's word.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 11:35:31 AM
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.

In this kind of situation, I usually try to make it look like I've messed something up or made some kind of mistake, thus putting the blame on myself instead of where it really belongs, as a way to avoid potential drama.

So... what I would probably do is go to your brother and say something like, "Mom told me what you wanted to drink but I already forgot! What would you like?" It's a confirmation without making it sound like you're doubting Mom's word.

Oh, I like this one! It takes care of the problem of her overhearing and getting offended. I'll tuck this one in my back pocket too - thanks!
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 01, 2013, 11:39:28 AM
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.

This is your brother's problem to handle.  If your mom is being PA about his new relationship, to the point of intentionally controlling his beverage choices, then he needs to take that up with her.  I would have asked him what he wanted, gotten that for him, and if Mom caused any drama over it, then as the hostess, I would have called her out.

All that being said, your brother handled himself perfectly.  He accepted the drink you brought him without comment and asked for his Coke Zero when it was time for refills.  So, no drama, and you weren't put in the awkward position of asking your mom to behave.

I applaud you for being a good hostess and wanting to make sure that all your guests are completely satisfied with what they are served. But this isn't about drinks, it's a family dynamic issue that your brother needs to handle.  If he gets the wrong drink in the process, then it's not your problem. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: cicero on April 01, 2013, 11:51:28 AM
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.

The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.
so? the way to stop this (sorry - ridiculous) drama is to not engage.

In this situation, everyone acted very graciously, but by *you* (the host) listening to your mother instead of asking/confirming wiht your brother, you caused an unnecessary issue for your brother.

If your mother chooses to kvetch about this later on, adding *this* incident to her list of "complaints" - that's *her* choice. Don't listen to it. As soon as she starts, just say "mom, i like Sandy. I do't want to hear this. Bean dip?"
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: lowspark on April 01, 2013, 12:12:42 PM
Yeah, the brother probably should just tell Mom to back off. But it might not be so easy to do, depending on how Mom will react. And certainly Easter dinner was not the time or place to do so. It sounds like he handled the situation with grace and so did the OP.

But I really understand why the OP is asking how to handle it. In a way, Mom is putting her in the middle by giving her the directive outside of brother's earshot. Now OP can either just go with what Mom says, knowing full well that Mom has no authority or consent to speak for Brother, or she can ignore Mom and go back and ask Brother what he wants. So that puts OP is in a situation where she has to be not-so-great hostess to Brother or risk fall-out from Mom.

She doesn't want either of those things to happen and is looking for a way out. So yeah, it's Brother's problem, but as his sister, OP is doing the right thing looking for a way to handle this properly as the hostess. Sooner or later, if Brother has had it up to here, he'll end up telling Mom to back off. With any luck, OP won't be privy to that conversation.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: doodlemor on April 01, 2013, 12:52:38 PM
The drama would have been my Mom using this to lead into another venting session about my brother and his fiance. Mom really does like his fiance, but her entrance into the family has been quick and she has basically usurped Mom's position as a "temporary Mom" to the twins. Brother and fiance have not known each other for as long as Mom would like, and Mom had huge, HUGE problems when fiance moved in with brother last fall.

Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.


It sounds like you've got a lot more going here on than drink orders. 

Frankly, it sounds like your mom is very controlling and difficult to deal with.  For starters, I don't think that you need to listen to her rants and invective about your brother.  This must be a terrible mood dampener.  Tell her that you refuse to listen to this any more, get off the phone, or leave her presence. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 12:56:20 PM
Sooner or later, if Brother has had it up to here, he'll end up telling Mom to back off. With any luck, OP won't be privy to that conversation.

I'm sure I won't be, and I LIKE IT THAT WAY!  >:D

There's a lot of disfunction going on, lots of enmeshment of my brother and my parents, lots of backstory. Because fiance has been living with brother since last October, she obviously knows the level of enmeshment. I can tell that she is working on breaking the bonds little by little, which is what she will need to do in order to fully be the wife and mom to the boys. Go future SIL!
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 01:07:03 PM
Frankly, it sounds like your mom is very controlling and difficult to deal with.  For starters, I don't think that you need to listen to her rants and invective about your brother.  This must be a terrible mood dampener.  Tell her that you refuse to listen to this any more, get off the phone, or leave her presence.

I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Promise on April 01, 2013, 01:11:49 PM
It's a drink for goodness sake! A gracious guest accepts what they are given and then if they want a refill later, get it themselves or ask for their preference. As a hostess, you did not do anything wrong. Again,  people take their personal issues and hang them on things that don't matter.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 01:12:15 PM
I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

It sounds to me as though you are giving yourself way more power and control than you really have.  It seems to me that your actions are not the "trigger" - your mother's need to make her disapproval of your brother and his fiance is.  Regardless of anything you do, your mother will find some reason to rant.  My best advice is to stop walking on eggshells and call her out on her atrocious behavior.  To her face.  Every time she does it.  If she cannot alter her behavior, stop spending time with her.

FWIW, I have done this with relatives.  Some altered their behavior, and I remain in close contact with them.  Some did not, and I have had no contact with them.  But my life is relatively (pardon the pun) drama free so good riddance.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: doodlemor on April 01, 2013, 01:25:37 PM
I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

It sounds to me as though you are giving yourself way more power and control than you really have.  It seems to me that your actions are not the "trigger" - your mother's need to make her disapproval of your brother and his fiance is.  Regardless of anything you do, your mother will find some reason to rant.  My best advice is to stop walking on eggshells and call her out on her atrocious behavior.  To her face.  Every time she does it.  If she cannot alter her behavior, stop spending time with her.

FWIW, I have done this with relatives.  Some altered their behavior, and I remain in close contact with them.  Some did not, and I have had no contact with them.  But my life is relatively (pardon the pun) drama free so good riddance.

POD.

I hope that your mother doesn't think that you agree with her venting when  you listen to her.  I absolutely agree with shutting her down, immediately, and it sounds lie TurtleDove knows how to do it and has offered excellent advice.

Many times people with difficult family members get so accustomed to the aberrant behavior that they no longer recognize how out of line the behavior is.  If this is true of your mother/family, then you have your work cut out for you.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 01:40:02 PM
Not to derail the thread, but here is one example from my life.  My older sister is somewhat of a golden child, at least in her own mind, and she is extremely competitive with me.  I could not ever possibly measure up, in her mind (not in mine - while I think her life is fantastic, I don't feel the need to make comparisons - I am happy with my life), and it frustrates her that I don't engage in the competition. 

My toddler was acting up at a family holiday meal, and I told DD that if she did not do X (I think it was stop going under the table and eat some bites of her food), Y would happen (I think it was she would not get the fabulous dessert my mom made).  My child did not do X, so Y happened.  DD began screaming and I took her away from the table until she was calm and brought her back.  She did not get dessert until after she ate the bites of her food.  Personally, I think I handled it well.  DD has improved since then.  She was maybe 3 at the time.

My sister, the next day, sent me an email chastising me for how I handled my child (she has four kids) and that my leaving the table with my misbehaving toddler ruined the meal.  I should not have denied her dessert on a holiday (never mind she did get dessert, I just made sure she actually had some real food first).  My response was that I was saddened to learn that she disapproved of my parenting (which, for the record, is what she does also and her children "ruined" many many meals over the years in the same way), but that I had thought about how to handle my DD, was doing the best I could, believe I handled the situation well, and that if she was uncomfortable with how I am parenting then maybe we should not spend time together if it is upsetting to her.

I got an apology.  My sister saw where I was coming from and that her disapproval of me might affect her, but wouldn't affect me. Now, my family isn't perfect, but especially as we get older we are really working hard to not be petty and to treat each other with respect and love.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: MrTango on April 01, 2013, 01:49:34 PM
When someone (B) orders for someone else (C), I think there's nothing wrong with confirming with C that the order is indeed what they want.

The exception to this is if C is a minor child and B is their parent.

ETA: to add emphasis to "Minor".

Also, if someone creates drama over another adult's choice of beverage, I would call them on it right then and there: "You're creating drama over the fact that C asked for a Coke instead of an iced tea?  Seriously?"
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: artk2002 on April 01, 2013, 02:10:58 PM
Mom really didn't have the right to speak for brother, but if she had heard me reconfirming in a way that implied that she didn't get it right or that it wasn't her place to state his drink order, it would have opened up the venting session later. I usually let her vent her steam at me so that she wears herself out on it and it deflects her from the object of her venting. But it would have been awkward to have done it right before dinner and I don't know when she would have chosen to vent.

Don't let them make their issues into your problem. You seem to want to step into the breech between your mother and your brother -- stop that right now. Your brother is old enough to be living on his own and have a fiancee. He's an adult. He can deal with your mother's wrath, whether it's rational or irrational. If she tries to vent at you, the response is: "Sorry mom, that's between you and brother. I'm not going to get in the middle of this. If you have an issue with him, talk to him."

She vents because she's been allowed to vent. Stop that now. Cut her off. Yes, she'll vent more, and pout and do all of those things, but she will eventually learn that it's not acceptable behavior. She controls you (and your brother) because you're afraid to make a scene. Tough. It's not you making the scene, it's her.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 02:18:39 PM
I can usually listen to her vents in a kind of "Anthropologist studying the Great Apes" mode. She uses me as her outlet because I'm a safe option for her. So I just let her vent and this deflects it/her from the object of her venting, as I said previously. It's just that sometimes her vents don't come in private between us, and I wanted to avoid triggering one of them, because I wasn't sure when she would go off. Triggering it right before dinner would have been very bad timing.

It sounds to me as though you are giving yourself way more power and control than you really have.  It seems to me that your actions are not the "trigger" - your mother's need to make her disapproval of your brother and his fiance is.  Regardless of anything you do, your mother will find some reason to rant.  My best advice is to stop walking on eggshells and call her out on her atrocious behavior.  To her face.  Every time she does it.  If she cannot alter her behavior, stop spending time with her.

FWIW, I have done this with relatives.  Some altered their behavior, and I remain in close contact with them.  Some did not, and I have had no contact with them.  But my life is relatively (pardon the pun) drama free so good riddance.

POD.

I hope that your mother doesn't think that you agree with her venting when  you listen to her.  I absolutely agree with shutting her down, immediately, and it sounds lie TurtleDove knows how to do it and has offered excellent advice.

I make sure that she knows I don't agree with her when her vents get beyond a certain point. Like, if she just wants to vent that fiance has brought a dog and 2 cats into a small house that already had a cat, and she doesn't think the house needs all those animals, I'll just kind of let her vent it out to me. But I won't agree with her, just make some non-commital comment. If she interprets that as agreement, that's her problem, she won't get any backup from me if she brings it up in the future, but it lets her get things off her mind. But when she vents about how wrong it is that brother and/or fiance did something and I don't agree, I make sure she knows I don't agree. She doesn't like that. One time during the planning of his first wedding, Mom was venting to me about how brother was "abandoning" his family in favor of hers. She didn't like it when I pointed out that biblically, he was correct (that leaving his mother and father thing and the cleaving to his wife thing.)

Mom isn't flat out against the fiance - don't read too much into that, everyone. It's just that she spent 3 years being "temporary Mom" to the boys, and all-around caretaker for my brother, and all of sudden here comes a new person. It's taken her some time to get used to it, and I think she still isn't 100% on board. The problem is that my parents and my brother are just enmeshed in their lives, and future SIL is slowly working to overcome that.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 01, 2013, 02:25:17 PM
She controls you (and your brother) because you're afraid to make a scene. Tough. It's not you making the scene, it's her.

She controls brother, not me. It's too bad that you can't pick up word inflection with the written word this way, because then you'd hear my sense of amusement when I describe what she tries to vent to me. I'm stuck with smileys  >:D

One of Mom's issues is her lack of control over me. She doesn't like that I'm an independent person with a life and thoughts of my own. I'll let her have it in spades when she tries to gain any kind of control. Then she pouts. She desperately wants to be the gatekeeper and I won't let her, except that sometimes it comes through in little cases like this.

I think I've got the etiquette issue answered thanks to some good suggestions. So I'll just watch the discussion from here on out. Thanks!
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: doodlemor on April 01, 2013, 02:33:18 PM
She controls you (and your brother) because you're afraid to make a scene. Tough. It's not you making the scene, it's her.

She controls brother, not me. It's too bad that you can't pick up word inflection with the written word this way, because then you'd hear my sense of amusement when I describe what she tries to vent to me. I'm stuck with smileys  >:D

One of Mom's issues is her lack of control over me. She doesn't like that I'm an independent person with a life and thoughts of my own. I'll let her have it in spades when she tries to gain any kind of control. Then she pouts. She desperately wants to be the gatekeeper and I won't let her, except that sometimes it comes through in little cases like this.

I think I've got the etiquette issue answered thanks to some good suggestions. So I'll just watch the discussion from here on out. Thanks!

I'm glad to hear that you have disengaged from her clutches, OP.  She does sound like a formidable matron of the old school.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: gramma dishes on April 01, 2013, 02:40:33 PM
Do your brother and his twins and now the new fiancee all live in your parents' home?  If they do, I understand, but if they have their own place I can't figure out quite how Mom can have this much influence on what your brother, his SO and the kids think, say or do.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: artk2002 on April 01, 2013, 02:42:22 PM
She controls you (and your brother) because you're afraid to make a scene. Tough. It's not you making the scene, it's her.

She controls brother, not me. It's too bad that you can't pick up word inflection with the written word this way, because then you'd hear my sense of amusement when I describe what she tries to vent to me. I'm stuck with smileys  >:D

One of Mom's issues is her lack of control over me. She doesn't like that I'm an independent person with a life and thoughts of my own. I'll let her have it in spades when she tries to gain any kind of control. Then she pouts. She desperately wants to be the gatekeeper and I won't let her, except that sometimes it comes through in little cases like this.

I think I've got the etiquette issue answered thanks to some good suggestions. So I'll just watch the discussion from here on out. Thanks!

I'm sorry, but if you won't do certain things because you're afraid that she's going to cause awkwardness, then she does control you. If you won't confirm with someone what drink they want because she's going to get upset, she's controlling you.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 02:52:55 PM
It's just that she spent 3 years being "temporary Mom" to the boys, and all-around caretaker for my brother, and all of sudden here comes a new person. It's taken her some time to get used to it, and I think she still isn't 100% on board. The problem is that my parents and my brother are just enmeshed in their lives, and future SIL is slowly working to overcome that.

This paragraph makes my head hurt.  Your brother is an adult, who is not developmentally disabled.  Why on earth would he need a caretaker?  I think your brother is equally at fault here.  No matter what, you cannot control them.  As art2k pointed out, however, you are allowing your mother control in your life.  Either accept that you allow her to control you, or stop letting her.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 01, 2013, 02:56:12 PM
She controls you (and your brother) because you're afraid to make a scene. Tough. It's not you making the scene, it's her.

She controls brother, not me. It's too bad that you can't pick up word inflection with the written word this way, because then you'd hear my sense of amusement when I describe what she tries to vent to me. I'm stuck with smileys  >:D

One of Mom's issues is her lack of control over me. She doesn't like that I'm an independent person with a life and thoughts of my own. I'll let her have it in spades when she tries to gain any kind of control. Then she pouts. She desperately wants to be the gatekeeper and I won't let her, except that sometimes it comes through in little cases like this.

I think I've got the etiquette issue answered thanks to some good suggestions. So I'll just watch the discussion from here on out. Thanks!

I'm sorry, but if you won't do certain things because you're afraid that she's going to cause awkwardness, then she does control you. If you won't confirm with someone what drink they want because she's going to get upset, she's controlling you.

This exactly.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: lowspark on April 01, 2013, 03:06:16 PM
I think that there's a difference between allowing someone to have control over you and picking your battles. There are times when I'll go along to get along. Sometimes, it's just best to let people have some minor victory for the purpose of peace. Cuz really, is Easter dinner with the family the best time to have an unncessary confrontation? Ya gotta judge the potential flare up against the time & place. So sure, OP should (and apparently does) stand up for herself when Mom tries to control her. But honestly, in the grand scheme of things, going through the minor fiction of drinking the tea (in the case of the brother) or making up some excuse to ask Brother what he wants to drink instead of confronting Mom, is a small price to pay for having a nice, peaceful family dinner. I've learned that sometimes, letting someone like this have some minor victories goes a long way toward getting me the major victory that is so much more important to me. The little squabbles usually just aren't worth it.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Salvage3 on April 01, 2013, 03:10:09 PM
Back to your original question:  if you knew that brother or anyone brought drinks, I don't believe you would have been out of line to simply serve that drink rather than asking.  In most situations I've been involved in over many, many years, if people bring something to drink for themselves, it is quite obvious.  If they are bringing something just to contribute, it's usually something others enjoy but not necessarily them. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Thipu1 on April 01, 2013, 04:41:39 PM
To be frank, I don't understand why this thread has provoked 40 responses in six hours. 

It's about a simple substitution of  inexpensive drinks.

Ditch the iced tea and pour the soda.  Breathe in, breathe out, move on.   
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Sharnita on April 01, 2013, 04:47:34 PM
Why not ask bro if he could help out by getting everyone their drinks?
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 01, 2013, 04:54:13 PM
Thipu, I think the responses are because some of us are so surprised that this would be an issue at all, and from the OP's responses this has little or nothing to do with the beverages.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Giggity on April 01, 2013, 04:57:44 PM
I'm sorry, I just don't get why this was a thing?
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: daen on April 01, 2013, 04:59:16 PM
It's just that she spent 3 years being "temporary Mom" to the boys, and all-around caretaker for my brother, and all of sudden here comes a new person. It's taken her some time to get used to it, and I think she still isn't 100% on board. The problem is that my parents and my brother are just enmeshed in their lives, and future SIL is slowly working to overcome that.

This paragraph makes my head hurt.  Your brother is an adult, who is not developmentally disabled.  Why on earth would he need a caretaker?  <snipped>

There are those people who want to be taken care of, whether they are capable of caring for themselves or not.
There are also those who will take over the care of someone else, whether or not they are needed.
And there are also those who fall into a parent/child dynamic of years gone by if they end up living in the same house again, regardless of time spent away.

Any one or all of these (or, granted, none) could be in play here.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 01, 2013, 06:06:49 PM
To be frank, I don't understand why this thread has provoked 40 responses in six hours. 

It's about a simple substitution of  inexpensive drinks.

Ditch the iced tea and pour the soda.  Breathe in, breathe out, move on.   

If this were about the drinks, then I'd agree.  But this is about a mother who is attempting to control every aspect of her son's life and is so hard to deal with that her daughter is afraid to ask her brother for clarification of his drink choices because doing so would cause a whole litany of family drama.

Many of us started this thread saying we didn't understand why there was an issue. Then the OP clarified and we realized that the drinks is just a small symptom of a much larger problem.  As a matter of fact, giving her drink advice wouldn't even start to address the real issue here. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: guihong on April 01, 2013, 06:51:33 PM
There's no way we can address the dynamic between your mother and your brother; that's between them and your brother would have to do the work to extricate himself, should he choose to.   I also feel curious as to what Anne feels about this.  She is marrying a man who has never fully grown up and who has a very enmeshed relationship with his mother.

As for the drinks, should this come up again, what I do in my family is get all the orders and repeat "OK, that's two Cokes, a ginger ale, an Orange Crush, etc."  Or simply have a beverage bar.

But, OP, I do have to agree with artk in that by quietly slinking around confirming the drinks (or any other of your brother's wishes, I suspect), so as not to get your mother upset, you are being controlled.  Holiday or no holiday, it's your right not to dance to her music in your own house.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: YummyMummy66 on April 01, 2013, 07:00:59 PM
Oy....so far I just read only the op and my head is spinning with trying to read the information/

What I have done and do now, and it is probably not approved in etiquette hell, is when I have something at my home, whether it be game night, or a holiday dinner, such as Easter dinner yesterday, if anyone asks to bring something, I might mention something to eat if they desire, but since usually everyone drinks a variety of drinks, I will tell them to bring what you like to drink.   I simply cannot afford to buy everyone's drink preference and I do not want the leftovers.  Usually, for instance my BIl and his girlfriend, always bring their own drink choice anyhoo.  She drinks Mountain Dew, he used to, but now I notice he drinks a quart of some type of ice tea. We try and drink somewhat healthy in our home and don't carry those items usually.  That does not mean, I will not go out and buy a variety of drinks at various times, it is just easier for most people to bring their favorite choice of beverage. 

What you could do for future reference is have a certain number of drinks to offer and that is it.  Say, water, ice tea and maybe a soda of your choice or a wine. For dessert have coffee and tea bags available.  (I am a tea drinker, not coffee).  But, I would not have too many choices as that can make it confusing. 

Or you can put all choices on a buffet type bar setting and let people serve themselves. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: gramma dishes on April 01, 2013, 07:04:45 PM
O_gal ~~  I asked  before but I don't think you answered.  Do your brother and his fiancee and his twins live with your Mother?
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: YummyMummy66 on April 01, 2013, 07:09:37 PM
Ok, after reading all posts....

I say go with my last advice.  Next time, (since this is all family), let everyone get their own drinks.  So much easier.  In my house, we are not bashful.  Everyone knows that when you come into my home, you are like family and you can get a drink if you need one, if it so happens that at one of the many multiple times I do ask if you need one and you did not at that time.  We keep our drinks in our basement fridge. 

Or like I said, if they ask to bring something, I usually tell most people, only if you want to, but if you have a certain drink you like, please bring that, as it is much easier than providing everyone's favorite drink.  May not be etiquette approved, but we have many get togethers and this has always worked out well.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: cass2591 on April 01, 2013, 09:06:36 PM
I'm sorry, I just don't get why this was a thing?

Why what was a thing? The OP's question? If the point of posting is to imply that you believe their question/problem is trivial, my advice is don't.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: LifeOnPluto on April 01, 2013, 09:14:27 PM
I don't think you were rude for not confirming with your brother that he wanted Iced Tea. If he normally drinks it at your house, it was a fair assumption that he'd drink it this time.

Your mother however, was presumptuous, if she knew your brother had brought Coke and would have preferred to drink that instead of Iced Tea.

Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 02, 2013, 06:24:03 AM
O_gal ~~  I asked  before but I don't think you answered.  Do your brother and his fiancee and his twins live with your Mother?

No. He moved to a small town about 45 minutes away from us back in 2005, for a job. When his first wife died, my parents moved to a rental house in the same town about a mile away from him. By "all around caretaker", I'm talking about a good deal of childcare, cleaning his house, cooking on days when they watched the boys, doing laundry, and general house-hold maintenance and repairs.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: o_gal on April 02, 2013, 06:29:41 AM
I'm sorry, I just don't get why this was a thing?

Why what was a thing? The OP's question? If the point of posting is to imply that you believe their question/problem is trivial, my advice is don't.

Thank you - I posted because I am trying to be a gracious host, and a situation developed where I was wondering what was an etiquette approved solution that would solve the issue and not lead to any further awkwardness. That's why I was trying in the initial post to phrase it as a general question with no backstory, because I was sure that hearing the backstory would send the discussion off into tangents. I was still able to get some great answers on the etiquette question, so my query is satisfied.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Virg on April 02, 2013, 12:53:49 PM
artk2002 wrote:

"I'm sorry, but if you won't do certain things because you're afraid that she's going to cause awkwardness, then she does control you. If you won't confirm with someone what drink they want because she's going to get upset, she's controlling you."

Her question was how to graciously confirm her brother's drink choice while minimizing the drama, and I didn't see any indication that she'd have fought the point if the correct etiquette said, "Just ask him outright."  I definitely get the concept of trying to minimize the chance of a blowup in a specific situation over taking a firm stand, and it's not fair to say that she won't confirm just because she's asking for drama-reducing ways to do exactly that.

guihong wrote:

"She is marrying a man who has never fully grown up and who has a very enmeshed relationship with his mother."

That's patently unfair and rather insulting to him.  His first wife died, and his mother has been helping him with raising his kids, which is how their lives got this enmeshed.  To say that means he never grew up is quite an interesting assumption.

"But, OP, I do have to agree with artk in that by quietly slinking around confirming the drinks (or any other of your brother's wishes, I suspect), so as not to get your mother upset, you are being controlled.  Holiday or no holiday, it's your right not to dance to her music in your own house."

See above.  The concept of "not a hill worth dying on" is well known in this forum.

Virg

Virg
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TurtleDove on April 02, 2013, 01:42:46 PM
guihong wrote:

"She is marrying a man who has never fully grown up and who has a very enmeshed relationship with his mother."

That's patently unfair and rather insulting to him.  His first wife died, and his mother has been helping him with raising his kids, which is how their lives got this enmeshed.  To say that means he never grew up is quite an interesting assumption.

Being a single parent, and being a widower is hard.  But, I know many single parents whose parents do not cook for them, clean for them, do their laundry, take care of childcare (actually, I don't know anyone who has that setup).  I am a widow and a single parent and my mother would not dream of being that over-involved in my life, nor would I want her to be.   To me, the situation described does not paint a healthy relationship between the brother and his mother.  Soon after the wife died, sure.  But for the mother to be upset that an actual spouse/step-mother is usurping her role raises so many red flags. I would not have chosen the exact wording guihong chose, but I certainly agree with her message.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Sharnita on April 02, 2013, 01:49:40 PM
I agree that in this case it is unhealthy. I will say I know of a few cases where a parent does provide childcare for their grandkids. In these csaea grandparent might run some laundry or start dinner as well. However, they do not see themselves as the boss of cjild or grandchildren. They recognize their new role, as well as the boundaries that come with it.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: guihong on April 02, 2013, 02:04:19 PM
I do wish now that I had phrased that differently, although I stand by my feeling.  My apologies to the OP.

At any rate, the drinks issue was resolved.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 02, 2013, 02:07:27 PM
I can see in the aftermath of a death, a grandparent stepping up and filling in that role of caretaker of children and helping with the upkeep of the house. 

In this case, it seems the mom stepped into that role and is now feeling threatened that there is another woman coming into it and essentially replacing her.  I do see her behavior as controlling and unhealthy.  And while I might not blame the brother for accepting the help she offered, when she offered it, I do see it as his responsibility to draw the line with her now.  I think he should insist that she step back and let him run his own life...to include doing his own laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. 
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: TootsNYC on April 02, 2013, 02:32:59 PM
If she's presuming to order a drink for another adult who is standing in the same room, I think she's overinvolved in a very unhealthy way.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: Hmmmmm on April 02, 2013, 05:31:51 PM
I can see in the aftermath of a death, a grandparent stepping up and filling in that role of caretaker of children and helping with the upkeep of the house. 

In this case, it seems the mom stepped into that role and is now feeling threatened that there is another woman coming into it and essentially replacing her.  I do see her behavior as controlling and unhealthy.  And while I might not blame the brother for accepting the help she offered, when she offered it, I do see it as his responsibility to draw the line with her now.  I think he should insist that she step back and let him run his own life...to include doing his own laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.

I don't think we've read anything to indicate the brother is not willing to take control of his life.

He didn't hear his mother order for him so when presented with a drink, he accepted it graciously and didn't make a fuss. He then chose to drink what he had brought when he had a refill. Sounds pretty self sufficient and mature to me.

I think the OP needs to stop allowing her fear of her mother making a scene control her normal actions.  If a guest in my home wanted to throw a fit because I confirmed with someon's drink request  I'd let them make a fool of themselves and probably enjoy the show while she was doing it.

My advice to the OP is to learn:
"Mom your being silly and overly controlling."
"Mom, I don't want to hear it."
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: artk2002 on April 02, 2013, 05:59:02 PM
If she's presuming to order a drink for another adult who is standing in the same room, I think she's overinvolved in a very unhealthy way.

Doubly so since the OP is afraid to question that ordering, lest she get upset.
Title: Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
Post by: bah12 on April 02, 2013, 06:05:57 PM
I can see in the aftermath of a death, a grandparent stepping up and filling in that role of caretaker of children and helping with the upkeep of the house. 

In this case, it seems the mom stepped into that role and is now feeling threatened that there is another woman coming into it and essentially replacing her.  I do see her behavior as controlling and unhealthy.  And while I might not blame the brother for accepting the help she offered, when she offered it, I do see it as his responsibility to draw the line with her now.  I think he should insist that she step back and let him run his own life...to include doing his own laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.

I don't think we've read anything to indicate the brother is not willing to take control of his life.

He didn't hear his mother order for him so when presented with a drink, he accepted it graciously and didn't make a fuss. He then chose to drink what he had brought when he had a refill. Sounds pretty self sufficient and mature to me.

I think the OP needs to stop allowing her fear of her mother making a scene control her normal actions.  If a guest in my home wanted to throw a fit because I confirmed with someon's drink request  I'd let them make a fool of themselves and probably enjoy the show while she was doing it.

My advice to the OP is to learn:
"Mom your being silly and overly controlling."
"Mom, I don't want to hear it."

Well, according to the OP she does run his life.  She's been overall caretaker for him and the kids and has something to say about just about everything.  Pets, fiance, and drinks. 

Otherwise, I  agree with everything you've said.  The OP does seem to be walking on eggshells.  It seems that mom pretty much controls everything.